Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?Book - 2011
In 1985, at twenty-five, Jeanette published Oranges , the story of a girl adopted by Pentecostal parents, supposed to grow up to be a missionary. Instead, she falls in love with a woman. Disaster.
Oranges became an international bestseller, inspired an award-winning BBC adaptation, and was semi-autobiographical. Mrs. Winterson, a thwarted giantess, loomed over the novel and the author's life: when Jeanette left home at sixteen because she was in love with a woman, Mrs. Winterson asked her: Why be happy when you could be normal? This is Jeanette's story--acute, fierce, celebratory--of a life's work to find happiness: a search for belonging, love, identity, a home.
About a young girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night, and a mother waiting for Armageddon with two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the duster drawer; about growing up in a northern industrial town; about the Universe as a Cosmic Dustbin. She thought she had written over the painful past until it returned to haunt her and sent her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It is also about other people's stories, showing how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking.
From the critics
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"There are markings here, raised like welts. Read them. Read the hurt. Rewrite them. Rewrite the hurt."
When people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant or any of the strange and stupid things said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language—and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers—a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place. (40)
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